The Quechua language family (the Indigenous languages of South America) is growing. More people speak Quechua now than in Incan times, including several million in Ecuador.
“Minga” is a Quichua word that represents the idea of a collective work effort and expresses the indigenous society’s value of reciprocity.
The stick loom which is still used in many places today, was invented in the Andes region of South America between 4 and 5 thousand years ago.
The majority of weavers in Ecuador are men.
There are at least 82 different indigenous language groups in South America.
It may take a weaver up to three months to knot the fringes of a traditional paño shawl.
Llama fiber is warm like sheep’s wool but is lighter in weight and does not shrink.
South Americans have been knitting for thousands of years, but it was a Peace Corps project in the 1960’s that got the modern industry off the ground.
Panama hats are not from Panama. They are made in Ecuador where they’re called sombreos de paja toquilla and are named after the palm fiber from which they are woven
The modern-day poncho is an adaptation of the traditional Inca tuni.
A belt woven on the traditional backstrap loom can take as long as four days to complete.
Llama wool is naturally hypoallergenic because it contains almost no Lanolin and can be worn by babies and those with allergies to sheep’s wool.
In the Inca empire, specially chosen women dedicated their lives to weaving fine textiles, some of which were used in ritual offerings to the sun.
In South America, families may start training children traditional weaving skills as early as 3 years of age.
Weaving a blanket on the backstrap loom can take over a week to complete.
The Incas so highly valued fine textiles, that when conducting a census, they rated them more highly than precious metals, gemstones, ceramics, or food
Amazonians invented clay pottery around 4000 BC. Before any other South American cultures.
In the Amazon basin, basket weaving is traditionally a male craft, while pottery making is done by the women.
The production and sale of ceramics from the Amazon region has given many women the means to provide income for their families and a greater degree of power over their lives.
Llamas and Alpacas were domesticated in South America over 4000 years ago and were central to the success of the Incan empire.
Llama and Alpaca fleece grows about four inches per year and an adult coat yields 3 to 8 pounds of wool each year.
The earliest textiles in South America have been dated from 8600 BC. Some have more than 200 threads per square inch, finer than most modern materials!
The Incan Empire is believed to have encompassed about 1/3 of South America’s population.
The Ecuadorian Panpipe dates back at least 2000 years. Made of varying lengths of cane or bamboo tied together in a row-it is called rondador, after the night watchmen who played the instrument on their rounds.
The backstrap loom was invented in South America, and got its name because it is strapped to the weavers back to adjust the tension by moving their body.
Many South American families still practice the entire traditional wool-making process, which includes:hand-cutting, washing, carding, dying, and weaving which can take several days.
Llamas and Alpacas produce fleece in a variety of colors (such as brown, black, tan, white, grey, or red) and the wool may be used naturally, without dying.